Three universities collaborating on new technology for discovering Type 1 diabetes in young children recently reported that the results of a study raise the possibility of detecting the disease earlier in life and of creating universal screening.
Scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Stanford University and the University of Florida stated that the breakthrough involves screening for certain autoimmune antibodies in relation to a protein called the pancreatic zinc transport 8 (ZnT8), a marker for the probability of autoimmune events, according to a press release.
Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is uncommon — representing only 5 percent of cases nationwide — but involves the failure of the pancreas to produce insulin.
Dax Fu, associate professor of physiology at Johns Hopkins, said that existing tests are approximately 94 percent accurate in early diagnosis — not high enough to work for general screening.
“Increasing the test accuracy will help expand screening for asymptomatic type 1 diabetes into the general population,” Fu said in the release. “Presymptomatic diagnosis will provide the benefit of beginning preventative therapies.”
If mainstreamed, the testing could detect the likelihood of Type 1 diabetes before presenting symptoms such as fainting, vomiting, exhaustion and confusion. Fu said that the new technology still requires more research prior to availability.
The team’s work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month.